After a number of false dawns, when a race seat seemed his for the taking and then never materialised, Anthony Davidson will finally take his place on the Formula One grid next season after confirmation of his deal to join Takuma Sato at Super Aguri.

In an exclusive interview with Crash.net Radio following the announcement of the deal, Davidson chatted about his excitement at becoming a full time F1 racer.

Q:
Anthony, congratulations on the move to Super Aguri, it's been long time coming...

AD:
Yeah, it has really been a long time coming for me and it is pretty much a dream come true. As a young kid, I started out karting at eight years old and moved up the ranks into Formula Ford. Then I moved into Formula Three in 2001 and then joined the BAR Honda squad at the end of that year, starting my official testing duties in 2002. Ever since then, I have been plugging away trying to get a drive and, finally, it has come about and I'm over the moon with it, it's brilliant.

Q:
You were very well respected as a test and development driver at both BAR and Honda, but how frustrating was it for you knowing that you were only a reserve in that situation?

AD:
It's like sitting on the sidelines at a football match I suppose. You always want to be out there but, at the end of the day, you have to stick to your job and do the best that you can in your role. In a way, it is difficult to be there developing a car for others to take advantage of and, even though I got to drive the car on the Friday after the development work that I did, which makes you feel a little bit better. Now it is going to be a whole different story. Obviously I'll still be doing the testing work, but now I know that it is going to be my car at the end of the day to push with in the races.

Q:
In the last couple of years, you have been offered drives elsewhere, notably with people like Williams and the Newman/Haas Champ Car squad. Why didn't you decide to pursue those avenues?

AD:
To this day, I still say that the closest one was with the old Jaguar team, back at the end of 2004 after my first year as a Friday driver. We were very close to doing a deal until, unfortunately from my side, the team was taken over by Red Bull. That was a very close deal with Tony Purnell, who was there at the time, but that didn't happen. The Champ Car test out at Road America was a fantastic day, I got on really well and did some good lap times and the team were keen for me to do more testing and hopefully race the year after - that was back at the end 2002 I think - but it never went any further. Williams is old news now, I think everyone knows the story there, and I continued on my way with testing. It was very close a few times and it was quite frustrating at the end.

Q:
How did the deal come about with Super Aguri because, at one point, they were quite noticeably trying to pursue an all-Japanese programme.

AD:
The team is very big in Japan with Mr Aguri quite a big star in Japan, so it made sense for them to have two Japanese drivers for a team starting out and trying to attract sponsors. I think next year could be a big year for the team. Obviously, you have to get everything in place to ensure the best results possible and, luckily, I have had to backing of Honda and the push for me to be here, which is how it came about.

Q:
How big was the part played by Honda in getting the drive?

AD:
It was very big. I've been with them for a long time and loyalty is key. Being in the right place at the right time is very important and, this time, it's my turn.

Q:
How long is the deal?

AD:
At the moment the deal with Super Aguri is for one year, but my deal with Honda is ongoing as well, so I am still part of the Honda family. I am still working with them and everyone at the team is doing as well, so it is a good link to have at this time.

Q:
What would you say to people who will look at this and think it is a backward step to go from Honda, a race-winning team thanks to Jenson Button, to Super Aguri, a newcomer to Formula One running at the other end of the grid?

AD:
The team improved leaps and bounds this season and, at the end of the day, a race drive anywhere is better than a test drive - in my mind anyway - especially when you aren't paying for it yourself! Paying for a drive was never an option for me. Not coming from a rich background and not having sponsors coming out of my ears, I just didn't have the money to buy my way into Formula One although I would have done if I could. Any race drive in Formula One beats being a test driver and, here, I have the best of both worlds as the team was improving so much all year.

If you plotted a graph in the percentage of performance in lap times from the start of the year to the end, Super Aguri would win hands down, They were about six-and-a-half seconds a lap off the leading car at the start of the year and they ended it pretty much a second to a second-and-a-half off. They made such improvements throughout the year and, in Brazil, they were running times that were almost comparable to the Honda team - finishing tenth in a Grand Prix is a good performance. With the level of confidence that they now have, and hopefully with a step up in performance over this winter break, we will ensure we aren't at the back.

Q:
Your initial impressions of the team are very good. What can you tell us about the 2007 developments for the team?

AD:
Obviously, it is an ongoing thing, developing the car that they had and learning more abut the tyres where there is a good working relationship with Bridgestone. That is going to be key, as everyone has to run the same tyre next season and getting the most of that tyre will be vital. I think they did that really well in Brazil, where I think the tyre had a bit of an advantage, but they managed to beat Midland hands down by getting more from the rubber for the race. It will be important and is something we will focus on over the winter during testing. The team has its own aero department, who work very well, and they made some really good changes to the old Arrows chassis to bring it forward a lot. The whole team is gelling together more and getting the best out of what they have.

Q:
You will be reunited with your former F3 and BAR team-mate Takuma Sato...

AD:
Yeah, it's going to be good. Me and Taku get on well and, having raced together wheel-to-wheel in F3 all season in 2001 in the same team and then having to work together as test drivers with BAR, we are back together again. In Formula One, it is a bit of a different task compared to what we had in F3, where it is a bit more selfish and you have your car and he has his and you go and race each other. In F1, you do have to think of developing the car and have a good working relationship as well as fighting out on the circuit. Development is something I am used to doing and now the big factor for both of us is tying it all together.

Q:
There could be as many as four British drivers in F1 next year, which is good to the sport in this country. How much are you looking forward to the chance to rekindle the old karting battles that you used to have with Jenson?

AD:
A lot. Hopefully, we are in a position to be high up on the grid as Jenson probably will be and I won't be looking for him in my mirrors during the race as he comes round to lap me! It will be good to be out on the same track as him and I hope we can have some good battles.

Aguri and Honda are two totally different teams but, as I said earlier, I am still in the Honda family and it will be interesting to not only fight with Jenson but with the team I used to work with - it will be quite strange.

Q:
In leaving Honda, you've left a hole there on the testing side. What do you make of the choice of Christian Klien and James Rossiter as your replacements?

AD:
I tested with James all season and think he did a respectable job and Christian brings a wealth of experience despite only being 23 or 24 - I'm not sure which, but I know he is younger than me and has done more racing! I think it is good for the team as they need the experience of some one like Christian and I think they have chosen well.

Q:
To finish, what can we expect from Anthony Davidson in 2007?

AD:
I have three grands prix to my name and no finishes, so that has to be the first thing to rectify. Then we have to build on that and build on the speed of the car to hopefully be scoring points at the end of the year. That is quite a realistic target for everyone at the team, but it will be hard as F1 is always changing. However, I think it is a realistic goal for us to try and achieve and we will be working hard to do it.

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